The Buena Vista-Manitou Springs semifinal in the 2021 CHSAA Football Championships (Spring) Class 2A tournament was very evenly matched, but for one key difference that contributed to the Demons 20-17 loss Friday.
Buena Vista (6-1), which had committed just a small handful of penalties a game all season, drew a very uncharacteristic dozen yellow flags. Half of those dozen penalties were the 15-yard kind that stalled Demon drives or spurred on the 6-1 Mustang offense.
“It was very uncharacteristic for us to have that many calls. We have never been called for that many that I can remember, especially holding,” Demons coach Matt Flavin said. “I will say nothing more of it than our guys were just trying to play hard and on some of the plays we let our emotions get in the way. We need to be better in those situations and that is on me, period.”
Penalties aside, it was a fairly evenly matched game between two very good football teams, what would might expect for playoff semifinals.
“It was a game that it should be at this point of the season,” Flavin said. “We made some great plays and so did they, but they made one more than us and that is all it takes.”
The game winner was a pass to the left side that Manitou Springs’ 6-foot-7 Joah Armour reached high to snare near the left sideline just beyond the line of scrimmage at the Mustang 20. The series started with 1:57 left in the game after BV missed a 41-yard field goal.
Armour caught the first down pass and outran the Defense down the sideline for an 80-yard TD pass and a 20-17 lead with 1:45 left in the game.
Buena Vista had taken a 17-13 lead with 6:13 left when Haden Camp rolled left and found Tucker Storms in the front corner of the end zone for the TD followed by Kam Flowers’ PAT kick.
That capped an 80-yard, 7-play drive keyed by a 46-yard run up the right sideline by Jacob Phelps.
Following the TD, Flowers and the kickoff squad executed a very high, short kick that Storms ran down and intercepted its descent inside the Mustang 30.
The Demons drove down to the Mustang 8, but a delay of game pushed them back 5 yards on third-and-1. Terry Hirsch’s touchdown was called back by a holding penalty to force a third-and-17 pass from the 24 that fell incomplete.
The field goal attempt then missed wide right from 41 yards out with 2:03 left in the game.
Manitou Springs took over on downs at their 20 and Armour ran in the first play.
“After the sky kick recovery, I thought we were in the driver’s seat if we got a few first downs and could put it away with a TD,” Flavin said. “Worst case scenario would be making a field goal and putting us up 7. Well, I guess that wasn’t the worst case scenario.”
As the clocked ticked down, the Demons overcame a dead ball roughness penalty when Phelps broke through tackles for a 15-yard run to the BV 33 and Brandan Cattell followed the line to the 43 with 27 seconds left.
Following a first down incompletion, a deep pass downfield was intercepted inside the Mustang 20 with 19 seconds left in the Demon season.
“Hats off to Manitou for their game plan. They did a great job and I felt like we adjusted well, going to the short side of the field because they were worried about the wide side so much,” Flavin said. “We also shot ourselves in the foot during some great drives.
“It was things we did, not the opponent and I think that is what makes it sting a little more,” he said.
Buena Vista opened the scoring late in the second quarter when Camp followed Elijah Evans and Kent Putnam untouched into the end zone from the Mustang 4. The TD with 3:28 left in the first half was set up by a pass from Camp at the 50 to Storms at the Manitou 25, where he slipped tacklers and took the ball inside the 5.
After nearly 3 scoreless quarters, the Mustangs hit on a 43-yard crossing route pass from Allen to Armour with 5:21 left in the third quarter.
Four minutes later, Phelps returned a punt 49 yards to the Mustang 16 with :31 left in the third. Manitou held the Demons to just 3 yards, but Flowers kicked a 30-yard field goal with 12:00 showing on the clock.
Manitou Springs responded by diving 65 yards in 8 plays including a defensive holding penalty before scoring on a dive from the Demon 1 to set up BV responding with its second TD drive.
The season always ends at some point, and Flavin put the weird world health pandemic school year and spring football season in perspective.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group. They poured their hearts and souls into this season, sometimes that isn’t enough and that is life,” Flavin said. “I hope they can take some value away from this season and put it toward something better in the future.
“If they can do that, I will take a loss,” he said, “because at the end of the day, our end goal with our program is to make them better husbands, fathers, sons, friends and contribute in a positive way to society.
“I love our kids and community, I would not want to be anywhere else regardless of the outcome,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it is a game – a game a lot of us love – but there has to be a winner and it didn’t go our way. Our kids are resilient and I know we will be back.
“Our program would like to thank all the parents, school and the community for all the support they have given us this year, it really means a lot and we appreciate it deeply.”
Flavin also addressed the graduating players.
“I also want to thank the seniors, each of them have left our program better,” he said. “They have been through so much and I hope our program helped make this year a little brighter.”
MS 00-00-6-14 - 20
BV 00-07-00-10 - 17
3:28 BV - Haden Camp 4 run (Kam Flowers kick) 7-0
5:21 MS - Joah Armour 43 pass from Caleb Allen (kick fail)
12:00 BV - Flowers 30 field goal 10-6
9:22 MS - Allen 1 run (Allen kick) 10-13
6:13 BV - Tucker Storms 6 pass from Camp (Flowers kick) 17-13
1:45 MS - Armour 80 pass from Allen (Allen kick)